ELDER LAW ATTORNEY
An increasing elderly population has led to an increased nursing home population, and with this has come an increased incidence of nursing home negligence and abuse. Governmental agencies such as the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services help oversee the care and services provided by nursing homes and both federal and state governments have established uniform standards for nursing homes and ensure the protection and safety of patients.
Nursing Home Abuse
Unfortunately, despite these governmental agencies, over one million nursing home residentsare abused in some manner each year. Such actions can include negligence and active abuse. Whether the abuse consists of recurrent negligence or a single incident which causes injury, the victim has a right to damages. In most cases, the nursing home in question can lose its certification for failing to supply the expected care leading to a loss of federal funding.
Types of Elder Abuse
Nursing home abuse can include physical damage from falls, malnutrition or dehydration, bed sores, gangrene, aspiration pneumonia, over-sedation, poor medical care, or wrong medication. Just as damaging but more subtle, are lack of supervision, theft, abandonment, defective equipment, sexual assault, coercion and financial abuse. All of these can lead to injury or death of the nursing home patient, causing emotional and financial damage to families.
Neglect vs. Abuse
There are any number of situations where a nursing home patient can be subjected to neglect or abuse, and it’s important to know the difference. Essentially, the biggest difference between neglect and abuse is whether or not the acts are intentional. Nursing home neglect is passive in nature and is usually a failure to act. Abuse is intentional; the abuser is intentionally harming the patient. A classic case of nursing home neglect is medical attendants not rotating a person who is incapable of moving themselves, which can result in the person developing bedsores. In that instance, the medical staff is neglecting the person’s needs and safety.
Another example of neglect would be not giving a patient their medication at the right time, or not providing them with a wheelchair or walker when its needed. Also, if medical staff is not monitoring a patient who needs to be watched, this is neglectful. Abuse is proactively and intentionally harming the patient, such as hitting a mentally ill patient to make them do something, or sexually abusing a patient. Cases of nursing home abuse often result in very large verdicts, and severe penalties against the abuser. In some cases, neglect can rise to the level of abuse, based on the severity of the neglect. For example, a patient who develops bedsores, and the medical staff still will not turn them to prevent them from getting better is an example of abuse. If you have a loved one in a nursing home and you see signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, you need to report it immediately, and remove that person from their nursing home.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
If you are the adult child, or other caregiver, for an elderly individual residing in a nursing home you may be concerned about the care your loved one is receiving. Your concern is certainly warranted. Elder abuse is a prevalent, and rapidly growing, problem in the United States. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected by the nursing home staff you may not know what to do or where to turn. First, however, you need to know what signs to look for if you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse. While every case of abuse and/or neglect is unique, there are some common signs you should look for to help you confirm your suspicions.
- Unexplained and/or excessive bruising
- Signs of restraint usage – bruising or burns on wrists and/or ankles
- Broken bones
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Urinary tract infections
- Weight loss
- Failing to thrive
- Failing to heal or recover from simple illness or injury
- Unkempt appearance
- Dirty hair or body
- Cavities or dental infections
Personality Changes/Emotional Signs:
- Anger without cause
- Crying without explanation
- Refusal to be around certain staff members
- Unpaid bills
- Missing property or money
- Uncooperative staff
- Refusal to allow you in if you show up unexpected
- Missing medication
- Refusal by your loved one to discuss possible abuse or neglect
Sadly, the number of older Americans who are abused and neglected each year is staggering. Accurate statistics are difficult to come by because many states lack a uniform method for gathering data regarding elder abuse. In addition, victims of elder abuse are frequently reluctant to come forward for fear of reprisals or simply because they are ashamed to be a victim. Experts, however, estimate that as many as one in five elder Americans is physically and/or mentally abused or neglected every year. In addition, many more are the victim of financial abuse by unscrupulous individuals who prey on the elderly and disabled.
As the American population ages, the reality of elder abuse is becoming a larger issue for both lawmakers and law enforcement. Your loved one does have rights as the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit may be pursued.
Get Legal Assistance
If you or a loved one is involved in a nursing home abuse case and is in need of legal assistance, call Broussard & Hart at 337-439-2450 or Toll Free at 866-281-4774. Our elder law attorneys provide an initial consultation free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, an elder abuse lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.
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Our attorneys will review your case and represent you throughout your nursing home abuse claim. Contact Broussard & Hart L.L.C. today for help pursuing a nursing home abuse or neglect settlement. Your first consultation is free and we won’t charge fees unless money is recovered.
Learn More about Nursing Home Neglect
See our free, unbiased resources to learn more about elder abuse and neglect.
What Qualified as Neglect in a Nursing Home Setting?
What Should I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?
What Signs Should You Look for If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?
What You Need to Know About Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
The Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
The Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Free Report: Elder Abuse and Neglect in Louisiana